Food & dining

Methuen orchard has been making apple pie the same way for 56 years

Bill (left) and Matt Fitzgerald at Mann Orchards in Methuen, where Bill’s mother’s recipe is still used for their thousands of apple pies.
WENDY MAEDA/GLOBE STAFF
Bill (left) and Matt Fitzgerald at Mann Orchards in Methuen, where Bill’s mother’s recipe is still used for their thousands of apple pies.
WENDY MAEDA/GLOBE STAFF
Apple pies cooled on a rack at Mann Orchards in Methuen.

“Thanksgiving is the Super Bowl of the pie business,” says Bill Fitzgerald of Mann Orchards, surveying apple pies stacked in white boxes by the busy bakery counter. The orchard makes more than 23,000 for the holiday, a tradition started by Fitzgerald’s mother, Ruth, who started baking apple pies 56 years ago. Her recipe is still used. “We haven’t changed a thing,” says Matt Fitzgerald, working in the family business started in 1877 by his great-grandfather Charles Mann. All apples come from their orchards; at the farmstand you can also shop for veggies or wine, or stay for lunch at the cafe. Each pie, which is crimped by hand, contains over 2½ pounds of apples (double crust and crumb $9.50 for 8-inch, $11.50 for 10-inch). Pumpkin, a five-fruit pie, and other flavors are also available. The orchard never takes phone orders. “Thanksgiving week we bake 24/7,” says Matt.  Mann Orchards, 27 Pleasant Valley St., Methuen, 978-683-0361, www.mannorchards.com. Pies also available at Volante Farms, 292 Forest St., Needham, 781-444-2351; Calareso’s Farmstand and Garden Center, 122 Main St., Reading, 781-944-6010. DEBRA SAMUELS